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State Republicans proposed ag legislation circumvents local control and public input
BRAD PFAFF, Governor Tony Ever's pick for Secretary of Agriculture, was ousted from his position in November 2019. The Wisconsin Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, voted Pfaff out just days before the DATCP Board was to vote on proposed changes to the state’s Livestock Facility Siting Rule.

After firing Secretary of Agriculture Designee Brad Pfaff on the eve of a vote by the DATCP board on proposed updates to the Livestock Facility Siting Law, now Wisconsin Republican legislators have proposed amendments to the laws determining how CAFOs are permitted in Wisconsin.

The changes that the DATCP Board was set to vote on late last year were the result of a full four-year review process that included public input hearings across the state.

After Governor Tony Evers called for a ‘Special Session on Agriculture’ in his January 2020 State of the Union address, legislative Republicans have come out with a set of laws that if passed and signed by the Governor, would eliminate public input into the CAFO permitting process, remove local control, and make it harder for local governments to pass ordinances designed to protect their citizens.

The bills, Assembly Bill 894 (AB 894) and Senate Bill 808 (SB 808), co-sponsored by Senator Marklein, and Representatives Tranel and Tauchen, is being fast tracked through the legislative process. For those who have concerns about this legislation, you can contact your state legislators at:

Governor Tony Evers: 608-266-1212

Senator Jennifer Shilling: 608) 266-5490

Representative Loren Oldenburg: 608-266-3534

The proposed bill, putting forth amendments to Livestock Facility Siting Law, is now being circulated for co-sponsorship, and there are serious concerns regarding a number of the proposed revisions. The bill’s authors are providing less than 24 hours for co-sponsors to sign on. 

Some concerns regarding this proposed legislation include:

• The quick turnaround for co-sponsorship does not provide adequate time to read and consider the ramifications of this bill;

• Removing the four-year technical review will prevent meaningful analysis and future revisions to a rule that already significantly limits local control;

• The bill removes all local authority for approving or denying applications, instead having DATCP determine whether an application is complete and complies with the local ordinances.

• The bill creates additional evidentiary burdens on local governments to set standards making it even harder for town or county boards to protect their communities through livestock siting.